Sunday, 9 June 2013

Why We Meet - Hebrews 10:11 - 25

Embraces, intimate moments, undefined by normal wall clock time. Rare for us in our time pressed lives; on average we give our kids just 36 minutes quality time per day. So when it comes to embracing God, do we fall into God's loving arms for however long it takes, or go for just a quick peck on the cheek?

The Greek has two words for worship: latreia (acts of service, e.g. Rom 12:1) and proscunio (adoration, e.g. Lk 4:8, Mt 28:9, Rev 4:10). We need both! Adoration with no action is hollow, actions without adoration runs the risk of losing the essence of why we started acting in the first place.

Note how Heb 10:14 and 17 talk of guilt removed. The old scheme had special days, religious festivals with sacrifices, repeated time after time (see v1f and v11f). But they can never satisfy. Yet one supreme act of obedience can: Jesus giving up his life. The most theologically significant words in this passage are in v12: 'Jesus sat down', i.e. his work was finished!

So v19f is about confidence: deep down we can know we are forgiven and thus approach God, enter His embrace. That will inevitably change us, sending us out to serve.

The world projects differently, undermining our confidence. That is why we need to take specific action to nourish and refresh our confidence in God. Each of us must work out our own appropriate rhythms and diet to do this. Work with the seasons, the natural busy and quieter times in life, and balance your diet (pure cookie dough every day is not so good!).

Sunday services (our corporate gathering) are part of this diet. But they only work when Christ followers deliberately meet with a desire to 'enter in' to God's embrace, sharing that experience together. Not just a spiritual dispensing machine, nor merely a club of like minded people, they are times together in God's presence. We need this encouragement, driving us back out to love and good deeds (v24), so make don't slack on meeting up (v25)!

Interestingly there is surprisingly little Biblical material to insist on Sunday worship 52 weeks of the year. About the best we have is Lev 23:3 and Ezek 46:3. Perhaps more important is the sense of rhythm and diet, balancing the two types of worship: service and adoration. Different Christians will legitimately come to different conclusions on this.

Yet of all the things we might do in a Sunday morning service (and there are many - probably too many!), chiefly we seek together to enter into God's presence, to gaze on God. This passage gives us ample reason to seek to do that, and do it with confidence.

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